The government has launched its plan for the future of the health service.
BBC News Online looks at the targets it has set:-
- By 2008, the maximum wait from referral by a GP to completed operation to be at most 18 weeks. The average should be around nine or 10.
There is currently a maximum 17 week wait for a first outpatient appointment, patients then have to wait for diagnostic tests before they are put onto a waiting list for an operation.
The maximum wait on that list is now nine months, due to fall to six months by the end of 2005.
- By the end of 2005, patients should be able to choose from four to five hospitals chosen by the primary care trust.
By 2008, patients will be able to choose from any hospital which meets NHS standards - the NHS will foot the bill for the operation, whether it takes place in the public or private sector
- The private sector could provide up to 15% of operations and a growing number of diagnostic procedures to NHS patients by 2008
- The government repeated its pledge that all NHS hospitals would be able to apply for foundation status
By 2010, the majority of care of older people with long-term conditions should be provided in primary care and the community, in order to cut emergency hospital inpatient days by 10%
To increase the number of drug users in treatment programmes by 2008 by 100% compared to 1998 figures.
The government has also set targets for preventing ill health.
- By 2010, life expectancy to be raised by three years for men and 2.5 years for women by cutting deaths from heart disease and stroke by 40% , cancer deaths by 20% and suicide and undetermined injury by at least 20% in the under-75s - compared to 1997.
Measures to tackle obesity, sexually transmitted infections and smoking will be spelt out in a public health White Paper to be published in the autumn
To produce an annual survey of patients' experiences of the NHS.
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